Host Jeremy C. Park talks with Heather Norvell, Executive Director of Begin Anew of Middle Tennessee, who highlights their mission and efforts to empower individuals to overcome the obstacles caused by poverty by providing education, mentoring, and resources. During the interview, Norvell talks about their different education tracks and programming, including HiSET (formerly GED), English Language Learner (ELL) and Computer and Job Skills Training, along with their free childcare, four locations, pivots during the pandemic, lessons learned, how the community can help, and more.
- We seek to minister holistically to every individual by addressing economic, social, and spiritual poverty.
- We address economic poverty through education opportunities, social poverty through mentoring and building community, and spiritual poverty by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- We believe everyone deserves the chance to begin anew and walk a journey to a brighter future. 2 Corinthians 5:17 proclaims, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (ESV).
Mission Statement: Begin Anew empowers individuals to overcome the obstacles caused by poverty by providing education, mentoring, and resources.
Vision Statement: Teaching one generation to change the next.
Founded in 1997 as Christian Women’s Job Corps (a national organization), we changed the name in 2016 to Begin Anew in order to reflect our ability to serve both men and women as well as added educational opportunities.
3 Education Tracks:
- HiSET (formerly GED) High School Equivalency Test (5 Subjects: Math, Reading, Science, Social Studies, & Writing)
- ELL – English Language Learner (Levels 1, 2, & 3)
- Computer & Job Skills Training (Word, Excel, Outlook, & Windows… in addition to resume writing, interview skills, budgeting, & goal setting, just to name a few.)
FREE CHILDCARE (Huge distinctive of Begin Anew, and most of our students need this service in order to obtain their education when meeting in person.)
4 Locations (Madison, Downtown Nashville, Woodbine, & Williamson Co.) – every site is incredibly different! 30 unique countries represented
- Madison – mostly generational poverty (students typically test with a high school reading level); added our first ELL class in 2019
- Downtown Nashville – mostly generational poverty (average student arrives with a 4th grade reading level)
- Williamson students represent 17 countries
- Woodbine students represent 11 countries
Class times (typically Monday & Thursday evenings from 6-8pm) (Williamson meets Tuesday & Thursday from 6-8pm and offers a daytime option on Thursday from 9am-noon)
In 2020, served 313 students and 76 children as well as utilized 198 volunteers.
- 205 women & 108 men
- 96 Black, 47 White, 151 Hispanic, & 19 Asian
- 58 graduates in 2020 (49 ELL graduates, 7 HSE, & 2 Computer & Job Skills)
Statistics: Community Needs Evaluation for Nashville (2019)
- Unemployment Rate for black residents in Davidson County is twice as high as the unemployment rates for white residents.
- Poverty rates for the foreign-born population are moderately higher than the overall population of Davidson County (21.4% vs. 15.4%)
- Davidson County (2017) – Poverty rate nearly double for adults without a high school diploma (28.3%) in comparison to the population as a whole (14.5%)
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 1 in 8 adult Nashvillians lacks basic literacy skills. (AECI recent posting, Adult Education Collective Impact)
- The population of residents who have immigrated to Nashville has grown from 2% to more than 12% in the past two decades. (AECI statistic)